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Vitamins and Minerals

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What are Antioxidants and why should we take them?

The word on the streets is that we should be supplementing our systems with antioxidants. Most of us know that they eliminate free radicals, but it may be useful to understand how they act to clear out these undesirable agents.
In a nutshell, antioxidants interact with and stabilize destructive free radicals which can cause havoc with the body’s cells when present in excess. Free radicals are the natural by-products of many processes within cells, but are also created by exposure to tobacco smoke; chemicals like paints, solvents, glues and some cleaning products; exhaust fumes; alcohol; radiation; fertilizers and sunlight.
The most common form of free radicals is Oxygen (O2). Free radicals are molecules with incomplete electron shells which make them more chemically reactive than those with complete electron shells. In order to re-establish their stability, free radicals seek to steal electrons from surrounding molecules, causing damage to cell structures and genetic material within the cells. When the "attacked" molecule loses its electron, it becomes a free radical itself, starting a chain reaction. Sometimes the body’s immune system purposefully creates free radicals to neutralize viruses and bacteria.
Damaging free radicals are now considered to play a role in aging, the general slowing down of the metabolism and a tendency towards illnesses like arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Antioxidants are chemicals that offer up their own electrons, thus preventing cellular damage. They are referred to as the scavengers that "mop up" free radicals by neutralizing the electrical charge and preventing the free radical from taking electrons from other molecules.
The vitamins A (which is converted from beta-carotene), C and E in conjunction with the mineral Selenium, act as antioxidants that neutralize free radicals. Fruit and vegetables that are dark green, orange, red, yellow, white and purple contain large amounts of Vitamin A and C, whilst a good selection of wholegrain cereals will provide adequate amounts of Vitamin E. Brazil nuts are high in Selenium.

The antioxidants that are found in Green Tea as well as most berries and grapes are called phenols. Trace minerals like Germanium and Copper also have significant antioxidant properties. Germanium is found in garlic and Copper is found in oysters, lamb’s liver, brewer’s yeast and olives.

There are a number of antioxidant formulas on the market, but stocking your home with wholesome and natural foods can also contribute towards healthier living and prevent free radical damage.

For more information, please contact Yvonne at yvonne@spiritualworld.co.za or visit www.spiritualworld.co.za

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